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U.S. diplomatic efforts intensify amid threat of Rafah assault

As the situation in Gaza continues to worsen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is leading diplomatic attempts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas. Israeli forces were about to launch an attack on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. Blinken pleaded with Hamas to think about a ceasefire and the release of captives, calling the offer “extraordinarily generous.”

During Blinken’s meeting with Arab leaders in Riyadh, concerns were aired about the limited time remaining for discussions to prevent further escalation, highlighting the gravity of the issue. Joe Biden, President of the United States, recently spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, reaffirmed American opposition to any possible Rafah operation.

Israel has not yet indicated that it would launch a ground invasion on Rafah, but there is still time to reach an agreement before it is too late. With the help of Egyptian and Qatari mediators, a deal has been offered that would see 33 hostages freed in return for a temporary halt to hostilities and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s apparent readiness to accept a prolonged ceasefire of more than six weeks was an essential concession in the discussions. Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas and a key figure in the group’s decision-making process, must respond before the pact can go through.

A possible readiness to negotiate has been hinted at by recent events, such as the release of recordings portraying the lives of three hostages by Hamas. Still, Hamas insists that a long-term truce, Israeli troop departure, and the repatriation of displaced Palestinians to Gaza be part of any deal.

In light of the massive demonstrations taking place in Israel, the release of the remaining captives has emerged as a top priority for Netanyahu’s administration. However, the administration still has schisms; conservatives want to use force in Rafah and are against the compromise.

Considering this, Blinken’s diplomatic objective in Gaza is to secure the release of captives and end the violence so that the humanitarian situation there might improve. Key conflict mediators Egypt and Qatar are taking an active role in the talks, stressing the necessity of preventing an assault on Rafah to prevent disastrous outcomes.

In the coming days, the world will watch to see whether diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the crisis and find a permanent settlement are successful.

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